A leading optometrist from Kingston Park in Newcastle will be giving up his two week summer holiday in June to travel overseas as a Professional Volunteer with the international development charity, Vision Aid Overseas. The trip will be extra special for Michael Offord, who owns independent practice, Michael Offord Optometrist, as this will be the 15th consecutive year he will be working for the charity delivering eye care services to some of the poorest communities in developing countries.
Michael will be travelling to Zambia as part of a team of six optometrists, opticians and support staff from practices across the UK. During the two week assignment, the team of Professional Volunteers will be examining and treating patients in two remote villages located close to Lake Tanyaneeka.
Vision Aid Overseas’ mission is to fight poverty through transforming access to eye care services in developing countries. An estimated 670 million people – 10% of the world’s population – are disadvantaged by poor vision and a lack of spectacles. The charity is celebrating its 30th Anniversary in 2015 and is aiming to raise an additional £150,000 of vital funds to help an additional 30,000 people in developing countries gain access to life changing eye care services.
Commenting on the assignment, Michael said: “It is really satisfying to transfer my skills and really make a difference to people’s lives. It’s an emotional rollercoaster as, unlike many of our patients back in the UK we see people at the end stages of Cataracts and Glaucoma which can be very distressing.”
He added: “99% of the people we examine and treat in our work with Vision Aid Overseas are overjoyed and to see their faces light up when we’ve dispensed them with new glasses is amazing.”
Judith Trigg, Professional Volunteer Co-ordinator for Vision Aid Overseas, said: “It’s wonderful to have the continued support of Michael and all of the Professional Volunteers and supporters that work tirelessly for our patients overseas. It is incredible to see the difference they have made and continue to make. Without people like Michael giving up their free time to travel on assignments, the work we do wouldn’t be possible. I can’t thank Michael and all our amazing volunteers enough for their commitment and hard work.”
Michael’s team leave for Zambia later in June 2015. To find out more about Vision Aid Overseas, please visit www.visionaidoverseas.org